Team USA faced an unexpected (or not) elimination before the championship match at the FIBA World Cup 2023. Now, with its sights set on the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, it is inevitable to wonder: what would the American team be like? ideal if all the best players were available? The Bleacher Report colleagues have chosen the best 12 possible for next summer’s event:
Starting Point Guard: Stephen Curry
Although Stephen Curry may be past his prime in terms of age, his impact on the court remains unmatched. Recognized as one of the best shooters in basketball history, Curry would provide a shooting range that would completely change the geometry of the FIBA court. His ability to threaten from the outside would force opposing defenses to stretch even further, opening up opportunities for interior players and transforming the American game.
Starting Guard: Devin Booker
Devin Booker, known for his scoring ability, has proven to be a more complete player with an impressive performance in the postseason. His versatility and size as a shooting guard make him a perfect complement to Curry in the backcourt. The combination of Curry and Booker could be the best in Paris, surpassing even other talented international point guard duos.
Starting Small Forward: Jimmy Butler
One of the most glaring issues with the USA’s performance at the FIBA World Cup 2023 was the lack of rebounding, defense, and intensity. Jimmy Butler would provide solutions to these problems. With his commitment on the defensive end, his ability to dominate a game, and his playmaking ability, Butler would be an invaluable asset. Additionally, his ability to legitimately draw fouls would benefit the team in international play.
Starting power forward: Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant, although he has faced injuries in recent years, remains one of the most prolific and talented scorers in basketball. His ability to score from anywhere on the court and his experience in international competitions make him an essential pillar in this dream lineup. Durant has proven himself in the Olympics and has four gold medals to back it up.
Starting Pivot: Anthony Davis
One of the most obvious challenges Team USA faced in 2023 was its fight against big inside players. Anthony Davis, despite not being the biggest player, is an elite rebounder and defender. His rebounding stats and ability to protect the rim would be instrumental in countering the size advantage of international opponents.
Reserve Point Guard: Damian Lillard
At 33 years old, Damian Lillard is still an elite scorer in the NBA. His ability to lead the attack and his experience in international competition makes him a valuable asset off the bench. Lillard led the league in estimated offensive plus-minus last season, demonstrating his ability to positively impact the game.
Reserve Guard: Anthony Edwards
Anthony Edwards, with his youth and potential, would be an exciting player off the bench. His size and physicality from the shooting guard position posed a challenge for opponents at the FIBA World Cup 2023. As a backup option, Edwards could be even more dangerous against inferior defenses.
Backup Forward: Jayson Tatum
Jayson Tatum is another versatile and talented player who could provide a ton of points and contributions on the boards. His ability to rebound and defend along passing lanes would be valuable assets in international play.
Reserve Forward: LeBron James
Although LeBron James will be approaching 40 years old during the 2024 Olympics, his leadership and unmatched skills still make him an intriguing addition. Imagining LeBron leading a team full of veterans and forming a connection with Durant and Curry would be a sight to remember.
Reserve Center: Bam Adebayo
Bam Adebayo, despite being a little undersized to play center on the international stage, is a consistent and talented rebounder. His ability to pass the ball and contribute in multiple aspects of the game make him a solid addition to the team.
Joel Embiid, with his size and scoring ability, is shaping up to be a potentially transformative addition for both the U.S. and France. His dominance in the paint and his ability to score make him a high-level contender in any international competition.
Player number 12
The last one could come from the following list:
- James Harden
- Kawhi Leonard
- Kyrie Irving
- Tyrese Haliburton
- Ja Morant
- Jrue Holiday
- Trae Young
- Darius Garland
- Paul George
- Julius Randle
- DeMar DeRozan
- Jalen Brunson
- De’Aaron Fox
- Desmond Bane
- Aaron Gordon
- Michael Porter Jr.
- Zach LaVine
- Michael Bridges
- Zion Williamson
- Jaylen Brown